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Community exposures to chemical incidents: development and evaluation of the first environmental public health surveillance system in Europe

Bowen, H., Palmer, Stephen Royston, Fielder, Hilary Margaret, Coleman, G., Routledge, Philip Alexander and Fone, David Lawrence 2000. Community exposures to chemical incidents: development and evaluation of the first environmental public health surveillance system in Europe. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 54 (11) , pp. 870-873. 10.1136/jech.54.11.870

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To describe the frequency, nature and location of acute chemical incidents in Wales, and the morbidity in employees, emergency responders and the general public who were exposed. DESIGN: Active multi-agency community-based surveillance system. SETTING: Wales, 1993-5. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Frequency, nature and location of incidents, populations potentially exposed and with symptoms. RESULTS: Most of the 402 incidents identified were not associated with sites governed by the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazard Regulations but with smaller industrial sites and commercial premises. About two in every thousand of the estimated 236 000 members of the public considered to be at risk from exposure reported symptoms, which were mainly nausea, headaches, and irritation of the eye, skin and respiratory tract. The most commonly reported chemicals that members of the public were exposed to were smoke toxins, miscellaneous organics, toxic gases and flammable gases. A health authority was reported to be involved in only 34 (8%) of the incidents and in only 3 of the 29 incidents where more than 100 members of the public were exposed. CONCLUSION: A geographically defined, multi-agency surveillance system can identify high risk locations and types of incidents, together with the chemicals most likely to be involved. Such ongoing surveillance information is essential for appropriate policy making, emergency planning, operational management and training.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Publisher: BMJ Publishing
ISSN: 0143-005x
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2017 19:54
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/68285

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